Bruce RE: [GTh] The Earliest Self-Identified Gnostic Text
- At 07:41 PM 9/19/2011, E Bruce Brooks wrote:
In Response To: Bob Schacht
I had suggested that all NT texts self-identify themselves as Christian. On the term Christian, we had:
BOB: Of course, the case for the 3 NT uses is greater if we accept the correct historicity of their reports, especially 1 Peter 4:16 , which supposedly comes from Peter himself.
BRUCE: Which it doesn�t. But the point for identification purposes is not that a text say �This is a Christian text� (Christian, as the dubiously reliable Luke perhaps helpfully suggests, being in all probability an outsider term for the sect), but that it acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, or shall we say Messiah.
Oh, so now you want a confession of faith-- from who? The author?
You have moved the goalposts again. We don't need "This is a Christian text," but language such as "when the Christians met in Antioch," or "when Paul met the Christians in Jerusalem" or when Paul had that issue with the Baptism of John, that could have been framed in terms of a "Christian" requirement-- but it wasn't. We do have 3 uses of the term Christian in the NT, however.
I should imagine that the point for a Gnostic text, if there are any, is not that it carry a colophon saying �published by the Gnostic Distribution House,� but that it internally focus on knowledge, rather than repentance and forgiveness, or yet on vicarious atonement, as the way to get out of the mess of this life....
Your phrase beginning "not that it carry..." is a mere parody and is not worth serious consideration. You are right to focus on knowledge-- here is the way the Wikipedia article on Gnosticism described this:
A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis (esoteric or intuitive knowledge), is the way to salvation of the soul from the material world. They saw the material world as created through an intermediary being (demiurge) rather than directly by God.
So, by their soteriology shall we know them. Also, they were wedded to a particular cosmology alluded to by the second sentence. This of course is the cosmology of the neoplatonists, and different in significant respect from what Christian soteriology and cosmology would become.
Northern Arizona University